Tom Chambers' acting career started with the National Youth Music (NYMT) before progressing to Guildford School of Acting (GSA). He describes himself as having been unemployed for six years following graduation, taking bit parts in London Fringe productions of The Rover (Young Vic Studio), Journey's End (Courtyard) and Bloody Poetry (Brockley Jack).

Just as he was about to give up on acting, Chambers recreated Fred Astaire's solo tap routine from the 1937 film A Damsel in Distress which led bizarrely to him being cast as Sam Strachan in BBC1's Holby City, a role he played for three years.

Chambers stars in Matthew White and Bill Deamer's screen-to-stage adaptation of Irving Berlin's classic 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie Top Hat having won the sixth series of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in 2008.

The show starts previews on Thursday (19 April 2012) ahead of an opening night on 9 May 2012 and is brought to the London stage 77 years after its original cinema release and includes numbers from the film such as "Cheek to Cheek" and "Top Hat" as well as other Berlin numbers selected by the creative team.

When I was at Guildford School of Acting I used to argue that the only reason I was there was because I was inspired Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. All my peers were into Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and I felt like I had been born into the wrong generation. I'd always loved that era and the pure joy of watching tap dancing done well. There's such a liberating feeling when you're watching it. I always argued that it would come back into fashion.

My career is a very weird circle. When I left drama school I was unemployed for six years with only jobbing and bit parts in profit share shows.

My agent had fired me because I had turned down an audition for the Bob the Builder arena tour. I said I'd rather wait for a "proper" acting audition and my agent let me go because they couldn't afford to loose the commission.

I was about to throw in the towel when I thought, well I've always believed in this Fred Astaire malarky so I'm going to do it.

But when it's live it's exciting. I think theatre is just incredibly romantic. It's unpredictable - you're always on the edge of your seat. I can understand that it's really thrilling for an audience as well - it's unique and can never be repeated, it's a different animal altogether. I'm having to get used to it again.

Summer Strallen has got a real First Class quality. She just knows the theatre and the stage and what works in front of an audience so incredibly well. Her antenna for theatre work and performance is second to none, she's absolutely got it down to a tee.

She's been an absolutely invaluable help to me. She puts the icing on the cake. We've had quite a long journey together. To begin with it was quite difficult because I didn't know her and she didn't know me. I hadn't been used to the stage and we were all trying to understand where we were meant to be going with Top Hat and how it's meant to be presented to the audience. Where we are now we've really learnt a lot of new things together. It's fantastic.

Top Hat opens at the Aldwych Theatre on 9 May (previews from 19 April 2012) where it is initially booking until 26 January 2013.